Mali: Amnesty Seeks Probe Of Attack Against Anti-coup Protesters

Amnesty International has urged Mali’s new leadership to ensure that Thursday’s attack injuring peaceful protesters who are opposed to the junta is fully investigated. The protesters were calling for the reinstatement of the country’s constitution when they were attacked by a group of people in plainclothes during a rally inside the labor exchange in Mali’s capital Bamako. It was the second attack on opponents of the military junta in just four days.

“It is deeply disturbing that Mali’s new military leaders have said nothing about the violence taking place under their noses, despite two attacks on protesters in four days,” a statement by the global rights group quoted Salvatore Saguès, its West Africa researcher, as saying.

“The military leadership should ensure that this sort of harassment against people peacefully expressing their opinions is investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” Sagues said.

Among the protesters were six senior politicians who were arrested and taken to a military camp outside the city. They were later released.

One of the witnesses, former Minister of Justice Hamidou Diabaté, told Amnesty International: “We were talking peacefully when people began to throw stones at us and beat some of us with sticks. They were shouting slogans in favor of the coup.”

Several people suffered serious head injuries, including Moussa Diakité, a member of parliament for the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA) and Mahamane Rakibou Touré, Secretary General of the Union for Democracy and Development (UDD).

Amnesty International also expressed concern about the continued detention of ten Malian politicians and government officials in the immediate aftermath of the coup.

Among the ten are three members of the country’s former government as well as members of Mali’s opposition parties.

A delegation from the Economic Community of West African States, which has suspended Mali following the coup and called for the reinstatement of the ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure, cancelled its visit to Mali on Thursday, after demonstrators on the tarmac of the airport condemned the intervention of the regional body.

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